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The Role of Peer Review in the Success of the PDA Journal of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology

The technical credibility of the PDA Journal of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology (JPST) is maintained through the process of peer review by recognized experts in the area related to a submitted manuscript. This peer review elevates the journal above other for-profit and trade organization publications serving the pharmaceutical industry. Although the citation rate of published articles is low compared to a more academic publication, the impact within the pharmaceutical industry is far-reaching. This is evidenced by the number of readers who open and read an article, but more telling is the number of times an article is downloaded and saved as a PDF file. An article may be used for training purposes, establishing company policies and procedures, answering questions as to industry practice during inspections or supporting regulatory submissions.

1 electonic tablet, 1 laptop, and one phone lined up together to spell out 'WE NEED YOU' in English, German, and Spanish

The willingness of PDA members to volunteer as peer reviewers, accept the invitation to review a manuscript and complete their review in a timely manner is critical in maintaining the JPST’s standards and reducing the turnaround time from submission to publication. A long delay in publication is an issue that the Editor and Journal Editorial Board want to address, as it will discourage authors from submitting future manuscripts and lessen the impact of their articles on hot topics.

Reviewers must be objective and fair-minded in their comments and requests for changes to the manuscripts and in their recommendations for acceptance or rejection. Typically, the JPST aims to recruit at least three reviewers for each submitted manuscript but, in some subject areas, the reviewer pool is sparse. On average, 3.5 reviewers evaluate each manuscript. The practice of adding authors to the pool of reviewers is sound, but are the authors aware of this practice and do they have a sense of commitment to this role? It is important that the PDA membership see peer-reviewing as a professional obligation that provides a service that contributes to the success of PDA and our industry.

The Benefits of Being a Reviewer

A PDA member may ask what benefit they gain from spending their time reviewing manuscripts. Unlike academics, they may not see this as an expected activity. Authors believe that reviewers have the opportunity to do the following:

  • Make a concrete contribution to benefit the pharmaceutical industry and enhance the continued success of the PDA as a professional organization
  • Help maintain the high technical standards of the PDA JPST
  • Sharpen their critical thinking and technical writing skills and stay abreast of the most recent advances in their areas of expertise
  • Feel a sense of satisfaction in contributing by reviewing manuscripts

Areas Requiring Additional Reviewers

Since PDA was founded, the scope of the organization has expanded from parenteral products to nonsterile drugs, biopharmaceuticals, gene and cell therapies and medical devices. Currently, reviewers with the following areas of expertise are needed:

  • Pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Sterile product production
  • Aseptic processing
  • Pharmaceutical microbiology
  • Quality
  • Packaging
  • Extractables/leachables
  • Cell and gene therapy
  • Viral clearance
  • Single-use systems
  • Vaccines
  • Human factors

To become a reviewer for the PDA JPST, go to submitjournal.pda.org, the Bench Press Submission and Review website, and create an account. Ensure that you include your areas of expertise and contact information in the enrollment record.

Most Common Observations for Manuscript Revisions

What are the most common comments made by reviewers for authors to revise their manuscripts?

  • Failure to follow the instructions for authors in terms of structure and content of the manuscript
  • The abstract fails to summarize the contents of the manuscript
  • Claims are made in the manuscript that are not supported by experimental data, informed argument or citation to the literature
  • Incomplete citation of the past pertinent literature on the topic discussed in the manuscript with a tendency for self-citation
  • Incomplete descriptions in the tables and figure captions
  • Lack of clarity in the language used in the manuscript
  • The discussion section does not address the implication of the reported findings and their relationship to the published literature

Reviewer Shortcomings

In the belief that every manuscript can be improved, the reviewers' efforts often lack recommending improvements to the manuscript and limiting their comments to a recommendation to accept the manuscript for publication.

Conclusions

A key to the success of the PDA JPST is the willingness of the membership to volunteer to review submitted manuscripts for content in a timely manner. We invite the membership to participate as reviewers and believe you will find this a worthwhile endeavor.

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